Where to Live in Portland, Maine

It seems like everyone wants to live in Portland, Maine. Hardly a week goes by that we’re not on some “best of” list. College graduates flock here for the food, drink, entertainment and active sports scene. Retirees downsize to Portland for cultural options and top-shelf medical facilities. Everyone loves the city’s size. It’s big enough to keep you busy, small enough to find your “tribe”, and see them often about town.

Many new Portland Maine residents want to be “on the peninsula”. Portland’s downtown is flanked by hills overlooking the east and west ends, and water access on the north and south. Almost anywhere on the peninsula, you can walk from grocery to gallery, beach to brewery, or concert hall to coffee shop. And you can’t spin a lobster without pointing to a restaurant.

What’s the Best Neighborhood in Portland Maine?

With so many great neighborhoods, it’s more about finding the best fit for you. We’ve broken down the choices to help you decide where to look. All the neighborhoods are in Portland, unless noted.

Near Lots of Restaurants (walking distance):

map of Portland Maine neighborhoods
Some popular Portland Maine neighborhoods
  • Munjoy Hill
  • Newbury / India Street
  • Old Port
  • Meeting House Hill (South Portland)

Near Nightlife and Music Venues:

  • Old Port
  • Congress St – mid-town
  • Longfellow Square

Near Beaches and Trails:

  • Baxter Boulevard
  • Newbury / India Street
  • Ferry Village / Willard Square (South Portland)
  • Munjoy Hill

Car-Free Possible:

  • Knightville (South Portland)
  • Bayside & Parkside
  • Congress St. – mid-town
  • Longfellow Square

Mostly Residential:

map of South Portland Maine's east end
Popular neighborhoods in the east end of South Portland Maine
  • Oakdale
  • West End
  • Ferry Village (South Portland)
  • Meeting House Hill / Willard Square (South Portland)

Less Congested, but Close to the City:

  • Deering Center / Rosemont
  • North Deering
  • Ferry Village (South Portland)
  • Meeting House Hill (South Portland)
  • Peaks Island

Drive-to Cheaper Rents in Portland Metro Area:

  • Westbrook
  • Old Orchard Beach
  • Redbank / Brick Hill (South Portland)
  • Riverton

Older Apartments with Character:

  • West End
  • Oakdale
  • Deering Center
  • Old Port

Sleek New Apartments and Condos:

  • Munjoy Hill
  • Newbury / India Streets
  • Bayside
  • Commercial St.

What’s the Cost of Living in Portland Maine?

Like many coastal cities, Portland Maine’s cost of living is above average. But, it’s about 50% less than New York and almost 30% less than Boston. The biggest outlier in our cost of living is housing cost: about 57% higher than the U.S. average. You might need to compromise on your “wish list” to find a place you can afford. And, because it’s so popular, it’s a seller’s market right now. If you see a great house, condo or apartment, it likely won’t be on the market tomorrow.

Moving to Portland, Maine?

You’re going to love it! We’ve been here since 1933, and are proud to be active in our community. We sponsor local non-profits and events. We champion fellow small businesses. We volunteer and buy local. Find us in the Knightville / Mill Creek area of South Portland, across the Casco Bay Bridge from Portland. We love to share our knowledge about the place we call home.

Need insurance for your car, apartment, boat, snowmobile, home or condo? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We represent many insurers and can compare rates and coverage to find you the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Not ready to talk to an insurance agent? You can get real insurance quotes online in 10 minutes from our website.

Should I Pay a Small Insurance Claim Myself, or Report It?

 

You clip your mirror on the garage door frame. Your daughter hits a golf ball through your neighbor’s window. Your shower drain leaks, staining your kitchen ceiling.  Should I file an insurance claim, or just pay it myself? How much will my insurance rates go up if I file a claim? Clients often ask us questions like this.

The answer may depend on your individual financial circumstances, insurance policy and who else was involved.

Definitely File an Insurance Claim If:

  • There’s even a CHANCE anyone was injured. Even if someone says at the scene that they’re “fine”, they can always claim that the injury wasn’t apparent until later. Sometimes, that’s the truth; other times it’s bogus. Insurance adjusters are experienced at weeding out legitimate claims from fraudulent ones. If you delay reporting the claim to your insurance company, you may jeopardize their ability to adjust the claim. They can refuse to honor your claim or defend you in that case.
  • The other party seems antagonistic or dishonest. Difficult people are hard to satisfy; and not everyone is as honest as you are. You may think that their damage or injury is minor, and offer to pay it, only to have them increase their demands. If you promise to pay something, and then turn it over to your insurer, you’ve taken away their ability to settle properly. You may find yourself on your own to pay.

Think BEFORE Reporting an Insurance Claim

Once you report a claim, it’s on your record – even if it ends up being uncovered, below your deductible, or you end up paying it yourself. And insurers consider claims when pricing your policy. Some insurance companies even charge you more for claims when nothing was paid. 

Wait…I get charged extra for saving the insurance company money by paying for my own damage? Is that fair? It sure seems wrong at first thought. Insurance companies might argue you’re more likely to have a claim if you’ve already had one. And the next one might not be so small. They need to collect more premium with the expectation of that future claim. You might say “what’s the point of having insurance in the first place?”

We’re not defending the insurance companies that charge for “no payment” claims. But, as independent insurance agents, we can advise you which companies DO charge, and how reporting a claim might affect you.

Here’s the thing: if you talk to an insurance company about a claim, they have a record of it. And, it may be used against you. If you buy your insurance directly from an insurance company (instead of an agent), you’re talking to an insurance company employee EVERY TIME you call, email or go onto their web site.


RELATED POST: What is Auto Insurance Accident Forgiveness, and Is It Worth It?


 

How Much Will My Insurance Go Up After a Claim?

It really depends. An accident surcharge is a percentage of your premium. So, if you’re paying higher rates (because of expensive vehicles, young drivers, prior accidents or violations, etc.), your increase will be bigger than someone with a lower rate. Every insurance company charges a different percentage, and for differing terms. We’ve seen increases as small as 5% for 3 years, and as high as 50% for 5 years. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t publish accident surcharge info, which would allow us to quote “what if” scenarios. But, we have enough experience to know which companies surcharge the most.


RELATED POST: Can An Insurance Company Charge Me for a Not-at-Fault Accident?


 

So, Do I Pay a Small Claim Myself, or Not?

That’s an individual decision, based upon your financial situation, risk tolerance and insurance status. You and your neighbor may make very different decisions. You might even make a different decision next year than this year. Your agent can provide as much information as they’re able, but the decision is ultimately yours.

If I’m Not Going to Put in a Small Insurance Claim, Should I Increase my Deductible?

Now you’re thinking. Higher deductibles even reduce the temptation to file a smaller claim. You also save money by choosing higher deductibles. Some companies offer larger savings than others. Your insurance agent can quote “what if” scenarios for you. Obviously, you don’t want to choose a higher deductible than you’re comfortable paying “out of pocket”. But, deductibles can be a useful risk financing tool.

Live in Southern Maine and have questions about your auto or home insurance? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click the chat button below. We represent many different insurers. We’re independent and committed to you.

What are the Highest Rated Insurance Companies in Maine?

 

If we recommend an insurance company you haven’t heard of, it’s natural to ask how good they are. Noyes Hall & Allen represents many insurance companies. Some are more well-known than others.

Because our companies sell through independent agencies, they advertise very little. By contrast, Geico, Allstate and State Farm advertise nationally to create brand awareness. Geico alone spends $1 BILLION on advertising – about 1 out of every 6 insurance advertising dollars in the U.S.

Good rates are important, but that’s only one reason for choosing an insurance company. Will they pay your claims? Are they easy to work with? At Noyes Hall & Allen, we’ve curated a group of insurance companies that we can stand behind. We work closely with them on behalf of our clients.

How to Choose a Good Insurance Company

There are three important considerations when you evaluate a potential insurer:

  • Financial solvency – Can the insurance company can pay claims, even in a disaster? Fortunately, A.M. Best studies insurance companies and rates each one for you. Noyes Hall & Allen only chooses insurers rated “A-” (Excellent) or better.
  • Customer Satisfaction – Feedback from other customers is helpful when evaluating a new insurer. Any company can have complaints; but those with repeatedly good reviews are a better bet to provide good service to you.  The J.D. Power national claims satisfaction survey compiles consumer claim feedback every year. But they focus on big national insurers. That excludes many regional insurance companies, which are so important in the Maine market.The Maine Bureau of Insurance indexes home and auto complaints by insurer. It includes Maine’s most important insurance companies. The drawback: the Bureau doesn’t get many complaints each year. That small sample can skew results. The Bureau weighs the ratio of complaints against each insurer to that company’s volume. This weighting levels the playing field. An insurer with an index below 1.00 is “better than average”. Anything above 1.00 is “worse than average”. We’ve included a chart with a recap of those scores below.
  • Fit with Your Situation – If you insure your beach house with an insurance company that has great financials and terrific reviews, but that company doesn’t like property close to the coast, it’s not going to end well. Some insurers specialize. Others are generalists. Some are comfortable insuring rental properties, or snowmobiles. Others focus on high risk drivers.

 

Complaint Index – 2016 – Maine Home and Auto Insurance

We compiled this table from data published by the Maine Bureau of Insurance. It shows the 2 year average of home and auto complaint indexes for the top 25 homeowners and auto insurance companies in Maine (by volume). We assigned a “green light” to the companies with ratings in the top 33%, yellow to the middle 33%, and red to the bottom third. Remember, customer satisfaction is only one way to evaluate an insurance company. The companies with the highest satisfaction may not write the kind of insurance you need.

 

source: Maine Bureau of Insurance. Compiled by Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance

How to Get Quotes from Many Insurance Companies at Once

Noyes Hall & Allen has access to the companies shaded in blue. That’s 11 out of 25, covering more than 50% of the volume in this list. The insurance companies we represent have a complaint index of 0.91 – much lower than the 1.00 average. By the way, insurance agencies have online reviews, too. We’re proud to show the reviews that our clients have left for our agency.

When you contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent, you’re checking 11 companies at once, backed by our knowledge of where each company excels. Your agent can customize advice to your situation, proposing a solution built just for you.

That’s what we mean we we say we’re “Independent and Committed to You”.  Request a Maine insurance quote today, or call us at 207-799-5541.

How Do Insurance Agents & Brokers Get Paid?

 

Insurance is a $1 trillion business in the U.S. The industry employs about 2.5 million Americans, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Life/health (L/H) insurers collect about $650B and property/casualty (P/C) insurers about $500B each year.

Noyes Hall & Allen specializes in property/casualty insurance. Before talking about how property/casualty agents are paid, let’s take a brief look at the P/C business.

Maine Property/Casualty Insurance Overview

P/C insurers provide auto, home and business insurance. There are 3 top distribution models for P/C insurance sales channels (1)insurance.

  1. Direct writers rely on advertising to generate the majority of their business.  When you call or respond to an advertising piece, you’re speaking with a company employee. They only offer products from one company. GEICO, USAA and esurance are direct writers. While they don’t pay agents to generate business, they spend a LOT of money on advertising. GEICO alone spends over $1B per year.
  2. Exclusive agents (sometimes called “captive agents”) also sell insurance only from one company. Unlike direct writers, they have local agents who sell and service their products. These companies also advertise a LOT to drive business to their retail agents. Allstate, State Farm and Liberty Mutual use the exclusive agent model.
  3. Independent agents (sometimes called IAs or Trusted Choice agents) are locally owned and operated. Each contracts with 5 to 15 insurers, thus offering their clients a choice of insurance companies. IAs can access an international network of brokers for unusual insurance needs. Insurers that contract with IAs advertise much less than other insurance companies. They are less likely to be household names. Many IA insurers specialize on one region or type of customer. Popular IA insurers in Maine include: Concord Group; Hanover Insurance; MMG Insurance and Vermont Mutual.
  4. Hybrid companies (ok, this makes 4 models, but not really). These insurers will write insurance using one or more different channels. These are usually large national insurers. Examples: Hartford; Liberty Mutual; Travelers; and Progressive.

How Maine P/C Insurance Agents Make Money

Both exclusive and IA insurance companies pay agents a percentage of the premium. Commission varies by policy type and whether the policy is new or renewal. Usually, commission is between 10 and 20 percent.

Exclusive agents often make a higher percentage commission on new business than renewals. Some exclusive companies even stop paying agents after several years. This incents the exclusive agent to focus on writing new policies.

Independent agents often make the same commission on both new and renewal policies. This allows the agent to provide  consistent customer service year after year. If you’re an existing client of an independent agent, you’re even more valuable than a new one. It takes an independent agent 3-5 years to recoup the cost of insuring a new customer.

Who Pays an Insurance Agent’s Commission?

The insurance company pays the agent’s commission out of the premium they collect. There is no specific surcharge on the premium that goes to the agent. Of course, the customer pays the agent’s commission – just not by a separate line item. Insurance premiums do not rise or fall with the agent’s commission percentage.

Can You Save on Insurance if  You “Cut Out the Middleman”?

No one sales channel is always the lowest cost. Claim costs and insurance company expenses all impact premiums. Some direct writers would have you believe that you save money by bypassing an agent. In reality, you might pay MORE without an agent to advocate for you. Of course, you could pay less, too.

Our Agents Speak English – And Insurance. If you don’t know the system, you can leave money on the table. We know to ask about certain discounts. Is your child on the honor roll or away at college without a car? Your local agent may know these things, or you might ask when you call in to do something else. If your agent is independent of the insurance company, they’re more likely to act on your behalf.

If you have a question about Maine home, auto, boat, motorcycle or business insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

“Can I Take My Spouse Off My Insurance?” How Divorce Affects Your Maine Insurance Policies

Divorce is a major life-change. It’s a complicated and emotional process that takes time to work through. It’s not surprising that it also can have a great effect on your personal insurance coverage. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about how divorce affects your auto and home insurance. You should discuss your individual situation with your agent and your attorney.

I Want to Take my Spouse Off My Auto Insurance

Until your divorce is final, your insurance agent should not remove anyone’s name from the policy without their written consent. An insurance policy is a contract. Your agent is responsible to BOTH parties to the contract. Each has the same rights under the policy. A professional agent will not only want to make sure that both parties remain covered; they are obligated to honor each person’s policy rights.

I Own One Vehicle, and My Spouse the Other; Can’t We Get Separate Insurance?

Maybe, but you should consult your attorney first. Maine “joint property” laws may render the registration immaterial. If the property is considered “joint property”, you both should maintain one policy until the divorce is final, and the property is separately owned. Your attorney can help you with this issue.

The Insurance Bills Go to My Spouse. Will My Policy Cancel if They Aren’t Paid? 

Yes. That’s why it’s important that your agent knows how to reach BOTH of you; you need to keep them updated. If payment of bills is a problem, discuss this with your attorney; they may be able to arrange for timely payment.

My Spouse Isn’t Reimbursing Me for Their Share of the Insurance. Why Should I Pay Their Part?

It’s important to keep your coverage in force. The best way to do that is to pay the premium that you are billed. Otherwise your policy could cancel – and you would both lose coverage. Don’t “cut off your nose to spite your face”. Talk to your attorney about evening out the financial details.

I’ve Moved Out. Does Our Homeowners Policy Still Cover My Stuff? 

It depends. It is very important that you contact your agent to discuss your individual situation.

My Spouse and I Can’t Seem to Agree on Anything.

Sometimes, it is best to let your attorney and theirs deal with these insurance issues. Have them contact your agent, and give your agent permission to talk with them.

If you are looking for a Greater Portland Maine insurance agency that understands how divorce affects your insurance, and can help you protect your assets going forward, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. Our agency represents several insurance companies, so we can offer one-stop insurance shopping.


 

When Should I Drop Collision Insurance Coverage in Maine?

This is a question our clients commonly ask. When does it make economic sense not to insure your car against collision?  Here are our slightly oversimplified rules.

“The 3 Rules of  Tens”

We’ve created these simple guides to help you consider when it’s less risky to remove collision coverage from your Maine auto insurance policy:

  • TEN PERCENT – When collision coverage costs more than 10% of the book value of your vehicle plus your collision deductible.  For example, if the book value of your vehicle is $3,000 and your collision deductible is $500, consider removing collision coverage if it costs more than $350 per year for that vehicle.
  • TEN YEARS – If your vehicle is more than 10 years old, it may no longer have enough value to warrant insuring.
  • TEN TIMES – If you have 10 times your collision premium in a “rainy day fund”, you probably have enough of a cushion to put a sizable down payment on a replacement vehicle. If you pay $350 a year for collision insurance and your “rainy day fund” has at least $3500 in it, you might reasonably risk dropping collision coverage. If you don’t have that much saved, you would probably need the insurance proceeds to help you make a down payment on another vehicle.

When Should You Keep Collision Coverage?

There are some times when you should definitely NOT drop collision coverage:
  • You have a loan or lease on the vehicle. Your loan or lease contract requires you to carry collision coverage for the length of the agreement.
  • You have only one vehicle. Most multi-car families can limp by on one car while one is in the body shop. But, if you’re a 1-car household, you’ll probably want coverage to rent another while yours is being repaired. Also, you’ll definitely need to buy rental car insurance on vacation if you don’t have collision coverage on at least one vehicle on your policy.
  • You’re worried about being hit by an uninsured driver.  If you have no collision coverage, someone hits you and it’s their fault, their insurance will pay. But, what if you are hit by an uninsured driver? Obviously, there’s no one else to pay; if you don’t have collision coverage, you’re on your own to repair your vehicle.  Maine’s ratio of uninsured drivers is 4%. That’s among the lowest in the country. But, we’re also inundated with drivers “from away” during tourist season. Other states have many more uninsured drivers.

    Related Post: Someone Hit My Parked Car!


As you can see, there is no single answer to the question of when to insure collision or not. It depends on the vehicle, your financial situation, how much collision coverage costs, and your  own risk tolerance.
If you’re a Noyes Hall & Allen client, you can request a change in your coverage here.
If you aren’t a client of ours yet, live in Southern Maine and have an insurance question, call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.
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How Does Getting a Speeding Ticket Affect Your Insurance Rates?

Police officer with radar gun
Photo credit: NY State Police

Getting a traffic ticket is one of life’s indignities. It’s expensive, embarrassing, and – depending on who’s in the vehicle with you, or who drives by while you’re pulled over – hard to live down. It might ruin your day, but in most cases, if you stay out of further trouble, you won’t have to regret it for too long.

How long do tickets stay on your record? Most insurance companies price insurance using the last 3 years of your driving record. Some companies use a 5 year experience period.

Will my rates go up if I get one ticket?

The good news is that one ticket USUALLY isn’t going to drive your Maine Car Insurance Rates up too much. If it’s a speeding ticket, and you were going less than 20 miles over the speed limit, most insurance companies consider this a “minor violation”. Passing a stopped school bus, driving more than 20 mph over the limit, and other more serious infractions have more serious consequences on your insurance rates.

Have the insurance rules about tickets changed?

Just a few years ago, most insurance companies had 3 underwriting tiers: superior, preferred and standard (high risk drivers went to non-standard insurers). If your driving record was squeaky clean when you bought your car insurance, you got the auto insurance discounts associated with the superior rate; if you had one ticket, you were usually still “preferred”. They usually didn’t bump you from your tier if you later had one minor ticket. But, if you got 2 tickets, they would probably knock you down a tier.

Now, car insurance companies have created 50, 75, even 100 pricing tiers, based on an “insurance score” that factors information about you, your vehicle, your driving record, and more. This scoring algorithm varies by company. They consider it proprietary, and guard it closely. Consequently, agents – and customers – don’t know for sure what caused their rates to be high or low. We suspect that insurance companies do now charge for every accident or violation, although probably not a lot for the first ticket.

Should I Shop My Insurance if I have a ticket?

Every insurance company’s rates are different. If you have just one ticket, and you think you’re paying too much for car insurance, check prices. If you live in the Portland area, auto insurance agents like Noyes Hall & Allen would be happy to provide a quote. We’ve even created a way for you to get your own online Maine auto insurance quote from 5 of our companies.It doesn’t hurt to check around; the worst you’ll find is that the rate you’re paying is a good one.

Maine Snowmobile Insurance – The Top 5 Insurance Questions

It’s that time of year again, when clients’ questions turn away from boat and recreational vehicle insurance to snowmobile insurance. Here are some of the most common questions we hear:

How much does is cost to insure a snowmobile in Maine?

It depends. Some snowmobile insurance costs less than $80 a year (liability only on an older 500 cc sled with no young operators). Other clients pay almost $900 a year (3 newer 800 cc machines with collision coverage, and younger operators).

What Snowmobile Insurance Discounts are Available?

Depending on the insurance company (as an independent insurance agent,we represent several), you may earn

Maine snowmobile insurance discounts

for:
  • A good driving record
  • No claims in the last 3 years
  • Completing an approved safety course
  • Owning a home
  • Insuring your autos and snowmobiles with the same company
  • Paying your premium on time.
  • Belonging to a snowmobile club.

How Do I Insure My Snowmobile Accessories?

If you buy physical damage (collision and “other than collision”) coverage on your machine, you can usually insure accessories such as electronics and radios, trailers, custom paint, exhaust, seats, backrests and windshields – even plow blades and winches. If you tell your agent about these items, they will be able to include them in your snowmobile insurance quote.

Which Company Has the Lowest Snowmobile Insurance Rates in Maine?

No insurer is consistently under-prices all the others. Some companies are better on fast sleds. Some prefer touring models. Still others have a great price if they insure your home, auto and other assets. It’s a good idea to compare. Even better, find a Maine independent insurance agent who represents several insurance companies. They can do the shopping for you!

For answers to your insurance questions, or for a Maine snowmobile insurance quote, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.